Exhibition “History and culture of the Jewish people on the territory of Russia”

The exhibition at the Russian Museum of Ethnography "History and culture of the Jewish people on the territory of Russia" traces the cultural history of the Jews - from the epoch of biblical Patriarchs to the period when the Jews lived within the Pale of Settlement.

The bulk of the displayed material is from the collections of the Russian Museum of Ethnography with some items lent from the Russian National Library, St. Petersburg Branch of the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, the State Museum of the History of Religion, the State Hermitage, and the Museum of Military Medicine.

The first (historical) section of the exhibition represents the chronology of formation of the Jewish culture: reference bibliography, the maps illustrating the origin, migration and areas of residing of the Jews, and their transition to the new state of national existence - the Diaspora, unique in its geographic scope and chronologic extent. Among the items of this section is also a range of exhibits related to the Judaica: Torah scrolls, Torah crowns and shields, a seven-lamped menorah, a decorative plate with Passover symbols, as well as old religious books and manuscripts, photographs and portraits of well-known Jewish cultural figures.

The second (ethnographic) section is composed of the objects revealing the culture and everyday life of the Jewish Diasporas - the Ashkenazi Jews (Jews of Eastern Europe), Mountain (Caucasian) Jews and Bukhara (Central Asian) Jews. On display here are various types of amulets which were meant to protect the owner from evil spirits. Despite the fact that Judaism forbade the use of magic, nevertheless komea (amulets) became exceptionally popular with Jews and often passed down from generation to generation. This section also includes the examples of traditional Jewish clothing generally formed under the influence of local environments, neighboring peoples, and living conditions: you can see here a mountain Jewish merchant dressed in traditional Caucasian costume, or a Bukhara Jewish woman wearing a dense horsehair veil covered her face and a paranja pulled over her head and completely enveloped her figure.

A special place at the exhibition is occupied by the exhibits which illuminate Jewish festivals and religious rituals. Among them are, for example, festive costumes, musical instruments, a rich variety of Chanukah lamps decorated with Jewish traditional ornamentation, and ritual utensils and games.

Torah ark curtain. Poland. 1751
Torah crown (Keter Torah). Poland. Late 19th century
Woman's costume. Western Ukraine. Early 20th century
Work in the expedition: An-sky talking to the inhabitants of a settlement. 1912
 Front page from the pinkas from Medzhibozh. Western Ukraine, Podolia.c. 1860